Stress is one of the single biggest energy drainer in the workplace. Everyone will experience it in their workplace from time to time, and while it can be healthy in small doses, getting a little bit too much of it can have dire consequences.
Where does stress come from?
Often stress comes from expectations that have been set by the people above. Shareholders will have expectations on the company set, which will translate to the CEO experiencing expectation stress (or the stress from having to live up to expectations). This then flows down to managers, who are tasked with executive stress (or the stress of having to put in work), which ultimately flows to every employee of the company (common stress). This is generally where stress comes from in most organisations.
How do you effectively support employees dealing with stress?
The most effective way to support your employees who may struggle with stress issues is to do so before they disclose any personal information. Having a well-known stance of supporting employees with stress issues is a start. Another good strategy is to encourage stress days when necessary, without the pressure of needing a medical certificate, as is the practice of many clinics who employee stress practitioners. You will find that your employees will not abuse the privilege, and will have reduced absenteeism as a result, as they are able to relax on days off without feeling guilty.
Open Door Policy
An approach which I alluded to earlier is to ensure an open door policy. Make sure your employees feel that they can approach you with any grievances about work they have, or any issues they are struggling with. This will add to a great workplace culture and ensure your employees trust and have good rapport with you. If an employee feels that they can trust you, they may be more likely to disclose any stress issues they are facing without fear of discrimination, or any other health issues that are bothering them, for that matter.
When an employee does choose to disclose a personal struggle with you, it is important to maintain empathy. One technique is to thank them for sharing their story with you, and to invite them to trust you with the information they shared with you in confidence. Next, don’t make any assumptions. If you do not understand a particular situation, you can invite them in a non-judgemental way to tell you more about it.
It is important in this situation, not to convey that you believe this condition may impact on their work, even if it may do to some degree. Use an affirmative statement of support to let your employee know that whatever can be done for them to accommodate their needs is no trouble, and you will find they will come to you to ensure key steps are in place to enable them to effectively perform their role in the workplace.
Dealing with stress isn’t easy. It takes an open and honest company culture to be able to admit when stress is becoming an issue. While admitting can be the first step, the best thing you can do as a HR Manager is to be an adequate support.